Travel Ideas and Travel Blogging Thoughts

Monday morning, I woke up out of a scene from Vietnam. I had just walked out of a jeep to take a picture of one of the most–or actually, THE most–beautiful scenes of a sunset, in the foreground, a line of beautiful greenery. I had to get out of the jeep to take a picture because I could not stand to stay in the car, sitting down, missing all four corners of my sight catching what was in front of me. And then my alarm went off and I woke up from the scene. 
Last week as I was browsing through the library, I found some travel books and checked out one on Thailand. It has quickly become my top choice to travel after seeing photos of life there and the experience of a friend traveling solo. 

Ever since I went to Belize this spring, I have not been able to stop thinking about traveling. For various reasons, traveling has been sort of “off limits” for me, something I always wanted to do but never really got to experience. In college, my degree program would not let us study abroad, even though being that young I knew that I wanted to, and some circumstances after college kept me for being able to really engage in the idea of seeing the world. 

Specifically, I keep getting this image of running into crystal clear ocean waters in the BVI, feeling my free spirit come in and my stressed/anxious/sad spirit just leave and move out of me. I had a similar experience the night I arrived to Belize; I put on my swim suit and trekked out of the treehouse and to the pool, the backdrop being the Caribbean waves breaking shore under the calmness of a serene moon. I got in and and floated on my back and literally did a flip with joy. I looked up from my back and started at the moon and the stars and felt the largest sense of peace that I have probably ever felt, which I know was straight from God’s mercy. I don’t know how else to explain something that is beyond words, but I know that I will not soon forget it. 

Part of me would like to give myself a couple of tanks of air to go scuba as my Christmas present to myself, although I can’t afford it. I can feel my mind and body, my soul craving it, craving this place underwater that is so special and stunning, another place where I felt such overwhelming peace. When my mind says “go”!, that is where run to in my imagination. 

While I’m thinking about it, here are the top destinations I’d like to visit next, in no particular order:


-Fiji islands


-re-visit Austria 

-Italy, (specifically, Portofino and to see some of the coast and opera houses)

-New Zealand

-Iceland and Norway


-London (I’ve been to the airport, but not more than that)

-Turks and Caicos 

-St. Maarten and BVIs



-AFRICA (a big one!!) 
United States:


-San Francisco (to see Redwoods in CA, to get in Pacific Ocean) 


-coast of Washington to see the ocean and those trees and the sunset that my west coast friends are obsessed with 

-Northeast (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont)


Where I have been internationally:

-Germany, Switzerland, Litchenstein, Luxembourg, Bahamas, Belize, and Austria 
I hope my future will look a lot like the above ideas. 


Fear vs. Bravery

The more I write on this blog, the more I realize that my use for it is sort of becoming a dumping ground of thoughts and ideas, and topics of these posts are all over the board. Sorry about that, if anyone reads these words.

I am not sure that anyone can be a heavily analytical overthinker with a little bit of life experience and not have some heavy fears. I definitely harbor some major fears in my subconcious: most of them are about loosing my family members, destroying my life and career, not being a part of a community or group or family, becoming depressed, bring trapped in an impossible situation, and ending up alone. For some reason, I hate admitting that I do spend a fair amount of time trying to combat the thought patterns that make up these specific fears. I probably do get a little judegmental when I meet other people my age who are still afraid of things like snakes, the dark, haunted houses, and rollercoasters–sometimes I wonder how these people deal with living in a very scary world if they cannot physically will themselves to go on a roller coaster? It seems sort of weird to me.

I agree with that famous distinction of recognizing the difference between fear and bravery, in that fear is one thing and bravery is having that fear there, but acting in spite of it, looking it straight in the eyes.

As self-perceptive as I am, I didn’t realize that I have spent quite a good deal of energy on mixing up my fears with the trajectory of my life. I get them, and subconciously so, really confused with each other–that just because I have a thought of the worst possible scenerio does nor mean that it will happen because we can’t tell what the future will hold. It seems so simple, but solidifying the differenciation between those two things is something that I really want to work on for my own confidence and peace of mind.

Other things happening:

  • Dave Ramsey FPU class & spent some time catching up on my reading 
  • Planning a trip to The Grove Park Inn in Asheville
  • Reading The Girl on the Train 
  • Ordered a pretty camel vest from my favorite store, Nordstrom
  • Trying to plan a good time to get my facet joint procedure done
  • Planning Thanksgiving, Christmas, and NYE



    Life–late October

    When I first got Instagram, which wasn’t even very long ago, I figured it would be like my decrepit Twitter account and fade into oblivion. Facebook and I have a love hate relationship; I either leave feeling inspired  and hopeful, or some days crying because of various reasons. An app meant for pleasure and connection making me miserable? please. no thanks.

    What I love about Instagram is that in a direct contrast to Facebook (for me), I am able to look at paths and ideas of other people I might want to emulate, usually those who are in highly creative, high skill level careers. Through this portal, I’m able to find inspiration, which can sometimes be hard to find.

    I got a library card this summer and have been in cycles of book reading ever since. I finished Lisa Genova’s book Inside the O’Briens which is a heartbreaking story of human resilience in one of the most dire of human experiences. I finished it in two days and it is well over 200 pages; I highly recommend reading it, but know that it is heavy. My local library had a copy–the North Carolina public library system is amazing. I’m also partway through The Girl on the Train, which starts out (and continues to be?) a little too depressing for me. I’ve heard good things about it, so I am going to try and make my way to the end.

    In more important news, I think we are finally making headway on getting my back fixed from an exercise injury in May! I thought I had pulled a muscle and took time away from exercising but realized shortly after that I was having lower back pain and my muscles were tightening up all the way from my lumbar spine to my thoracic spine, which has progressively increased to pain whenever I stand for about fifteen minutes or sitting down for about 30-45 minutes, and any sort of real excersize causes pain. I haven’t been to kickboxing in months, gone running, elliptical, circuit class (where I had this injury). I’m disappointed because I feel like I’m declining in my fitness levels and loosing some muscle tone and really frustrated. Since July, I’ve had an ultrasound on my back, X-rays of all regions of my spine, an MRI, SO MUCH PT, a meeting with a spine othropedic surgeon,  two meetings with my GP, and today I met with a physiatrist to go over my scans and what to do moving forward. Walking into the facility where she was was an experience–everyone was so style=”font-weight: bold;”>nice and so helpful…they must have all eaten cookies and Starbucks for lunch.

    I’ve found out that I have a little bit of scoliosis–my left side is taller than my right (which others have speculated about before…surprise!), but my muscles are more pronounced on my right side. I also have an ‘extra’ lumbar vertebrae that is fairly common–about 20%+ people have that. But, the good news is that my discs are healthy and there are no fractures. Here’s my problem: I have joint facet inflammation between some of my vertebrae, which we think is causing the pain when standing/sitting/excersize in my L3-5. My doctor said that this happens a lot with people who are young and active and it looks like that my idea of pushing myself in a workout meant that I went overboard and got injured–oops. 🙄 I am going to be having a procedure of joint facet injections which should reset my back and fix it (fingers crossed!!). I am not sure exactly how invasive mine is going to be, but I know I won’t have to stay overnight. The idea of having long needles in my spine is weird, but I know this is something I can handle via God’s grace over me.

    MRI Adventure and Purple Toes

         When taking a bubble bath after work/lessons/rehearsals, I noticed how much of a typical twentysomething-girl-in-non-fiction novel I looked: dark purple toenail polish existing under greenish clear water enhanced by sporadic clouds of bubbles floating aimlessly on top, thinking about life. I swear, that string of words seemed like something straight out of the first paragraph of a young adult novel. 

         Saturday night, I  finally got to go for my MRI appointment at this tiny clinc close to my house. The receptionist was light-hearted and joked with me after lisenting to this news story in the background about a gunfight over beer; she joked that it is wise not to get between a dude and his beer. When I went into the MRI room, I got on the table with my headphones and the tech gave me a pre-heated blanket (#win) and explained how this was all going to work. She gave me this little ball to hold that would page her in case I needed anything and I was sent off into the tube. For some reason I had assumed  that the opening would be more significant, but it really was like a tube and I can definately see why claustrophobic people have issues in these things. They make quite a bit of sound, and at first, I started laughing because the only thing I could picture were aliens bundling me up in an inescapable tube to ship me off to their motherland. (Seriously, who starts laughing in an MRI? Why am I so weird?) Then I reminded myself that I am supposed to stay perfectly still for one hour and that smiling is still considered movement…and this test pretty much costs the equivalent of my life’s salary, so I did not need to mess it up with my laughter!

        Things got a little warm during tube-time and I woke up feeling like my face was flushed and that I wanted that blanket off me because it was so hot. I opened my eyes for a little while and looked up at the top of the machine, which reminded me of the plastic area on the ceiling above the seats in a commercial airplane. I tried to enjoy the act of forced rest, wondering how something so small as some back pain immediately hitting after burpees had somehow turned into a five-month-long production of what-is-this and how-do-we-fix-it? The tech was super nice and when I got out, my back immediately started hurting again, confirming to me how much I need to get this fixed and lessening the second-guessing part of myself wondering if I look like a diva for bending over backwards (get it? back? whomp, whomp) to try and nail this down and cross this problem off my list.

        I am going to read about hope tonight–submerse myself in inspiration and try and remember and know what all this word means in life and especially in my life.


    Life Lately–Mid-October 

    I still have not figured out the how-to-blog-honestly-but-not-overshare. In the interest of going against my natural gravitational pull towards privacy, reservation, and as my mom would say, “not volunteering information”, maybe I should err on the side of openness…or at least try. 

    I think the overarching theme for me this past week has been one, unexpectedly, of comfort. I find my comfort (outside of the spiritual realm) in “my” people and also in my purpose. I’ve noticed I’ve been wanting to hear it’s going to be okay  from other people– ditching the cycle of trying to convince myself of this feat through my own circular thinking and my tirade of independent, toughness, and BadAssery–because it’s still MY brain trying to convince MY brain of the same concept it resists. 

    At PT last week [autocorrect corrected to “PTA”–not yet, autocorrect…don’t jump the gun], my back had really been hurting and was uncomfortable, so I was doing some stretches with my PT helping. At one point, I thought I might slip off the table. I asked him not to let me fall and he responded by helping me even more and saying “I’ve got you.” Everytime I think about that, I get a flood of relief–an actual feeling of repreive of a physical calm that is somewhere in between getting in a warm bathtub when you’re freezing with no hope of ever being warm again, and having something you care about deeply given back to you. The least important part of this comfort was the PT–I need it for everything. I need that assurance right now–to go from believing what I believe now to believing what I want to believe–that God has  me, that my friends have me, that my family has me, that the people who love me and whom I love have me….that I’m not walking a dusty desert road alone somewhere that leads to absolutely nowhere, that everything I thought I knew was wrong and finding right again is impossible. That God won’t let me fall and neither will my people. This concept and feeling of comfort is so tremendously welcome and I know right where it is coming from (a gift from God to me). 

    Below are some pictures from my week! 
     …the photobooth with a singer friend with a Chai Tea Latte (love those things!)   

    the red tourniquet I got after getting blood taken to figure out my spine problem. The blood tech (probably more formally called a lab tech) was so nice…which was much appreciated by me. I told her I was a singer and she let me know that she was going to look me up on The Youtubes. 🙂

    who else but Harry? I carved a Harry Potter pumpkin….and yes, I felt remorse and guilt when I had to leave him outside last night.    



    The post on raisins. 

    I am reading a book on the concept of mindfulness, which immediately reminds me of meditation at opera workshops and having “classes” on this where 1/2 of the class falls asleep and the other half claims to have experienced some sort of spiritual and mental rejuvenation immediately upon conclusion of the class. Frankly, I don’t buy into what mediation claims to do, but I’ve tried to keep an open mind on mindfulness.

    Excersize A) Observe raisin. {okay. I see you raisin.} Notice texture, taste, smell, and sight of rasin. {why am I spending time thinking about a raisin? Is this how I’m choosing to spend my twenties? My life? I am a raisin researcher/blogger? Not getting any younger}. If your mind wanders, be sure and bring it back to the raisin in the present. It is okay if the mind wanders. {okay. Wow. Back to raisin studies}.

    The above exercise was something I actually did and those were my thoughts. It sounds like pseudo-psychology to me, like some sort of another weird twentysomething trend. I convinced myself to keep reading and keep an open mind, and aside from a couple lines of psalms and paragraphs in Emily Giffin books, this was the most profound, gut-wrenching, albeit calming, writing I’ve read in a long time.

    The writers of this book so eloquently wrote the outline of my spirit in a way that I have desperately been searching to understand for months, much to the perplexed frustration of my friends near and far, not to mention the toll this has taken on me. Trying to find the answer to a problem, or a stressor, something that seems (and is believed to be so big it’s nearly unfixable), is mind-consuming–at least for me.

    Here are a couple of things the passage said:

    – “Emotions persist because we have emotional reactions to our own emotions that actually keep them going.” {I wanted to jump for joy after I read this because I am living this and I also wanted to vomit at the same time because I don’t want that to be true–emotional response to negative emotions? Inception?)

    – “The mind, driven to focus on the compelling yet futile task of getting rid of these feelings, closes in on itself. And with it, our experience of life itself narrows. Somehow we feel cramped, boxed in. The choices a able to us seem to dwindle.” (YES).

    Whatever this line of thinking is, it is what is present in my life and I am so relieved that this is written down in this mindfulness book because I couldn’t have described it better. My hope is that it will lead me down the road in which I want to go–to gain fullness of spirit and a happy, healthy spirit not bogged down by circular thinking.

    And, as I’m writing this, I have this picture in my mind of myself standing on a dirt road in the rain in a dress with my palms towards the sky, smiling at the road ahead and what is to come. For some reason, it reminds me of the above painting, calm, serene, okay, and happy.

    Montreat Weekend

    True story: when I was little, my parents randomly signed me up to go to this camp called Montreat; I got nervous for some reason, even though I regularly attended the same summer camp in Alabama my entire life thus far, and backed out the night before. I found myself, as a 20-something, having made a last minute decision to spend the weekend at a beautiful camp close to where I live…and it just so happened to be that same Montreat. Full Circle. 
    Since I want this to be a place where I can write about things that are important, I wanted to hit on an idea that has been muddling around in my mind but not put entirely into this perspective that someone talked about this weekend. The idea that innocence can be restored and even if our world view is messed up, doesn’t have to stay that way…that sometimes things happen and we just want to press the reset button to view the world in a way of hope, love, future, and brightness instead of doom and gloom. Or at least I think that’s what he meant. And it was refreshing to hear someone put it that way. 

    I have never considered myself a cynic. I am naturally, spunky and cheerful, and I try to be that way even when I am sad because I know that is ingrained deep within my personality and that is who I am. Lately, I’ve begun to wonder: does it matter if we are not okay? Don’t we just have to take or get through whatever comes, and it doesn’t matter if we are faced with a nightmare or something tragic or our worst fears because we don’t get to resist or change those things happening to us? Many  most of my thoughts about the future, and planning the future, circle around these distinct thoughts. Many times, the cheerful and hopeful spirit is generously outweighed by the above thoughts, and I’m not exactly sure when that shift happened for me, or maybe if it is normal for people to think like this in regards to the future. It’s certainly not how I was brought up or how my friends think about their futures. 

    This weekend, I wasn’t really thinking about my future; I wasn’t really worried. I was more focused on trying to be a good leader and staying dry {it rained every minute I was awake}, trying to make the best of the weekend and cheer on Auburn and strengthen some relationships and enjoy being away. I am not sure what it is about retreat centers, or stuffing a bag full of weekend clothes and a pillow and getting into your friend’s car for the weekend, but the comraderie, hope, and fullness of that speaks to me. It pulls me from those thoughts up in bold that make me sad to the thoughts down here on this side of the page. It pulls me from not caring about things I should to not caring if my hair gets soaked jumping in puddles in the rain. It pulls me into possibility and hope instead of sadness and bricked-down doors in front of bricked down, impassable walls. 

    I miss this version of myself, so much. How is it possible to miss yourself? I miss the hope of my higher education and career ideas, and the thought that maybe I will get a miracle and one day meet someone I love-who will love me back AND make sure I know it-to be a girl who gets sent flowers and have someone to cuddle with at the end of the day, who I want to be there; is that weird to even say? She’s in there somewhere, I think. 

    Let my hope be strengthened and SEEN, felt, KNOWN, EVERYTHING…let it consume me entirely, all over, inside, outside, ALL.